Le Grand Véfour, 1st Arr.
Tel: 33 1 42 96 56 27
Metro: Palais Royal or Bourse
Concierge.com's insider take:
By many a twist, this restaurant, opened in 1784, has survived the French Revolution, industrialization, and passing culinary fashions. And despite chef Guy Martin's self-taught eclecticism and the distraction of opening chic Sensing in 2006 (19 Rue Bréa; 33-1-43-27-08-80; www.restaurantsensing.com), he's still a major player in the Michelin game, with Le Grand Véfour clocking in at two stars as of March 2008. The setting is ravishing: chandeliers, plush carpets, and 18th-century mirrored and painted panels. At least one menu item is nearly as old as the restaurant: the sublime mashed potatoes with oxtails and black truffles. Not so the rest of Martin's cooking, which borrows inspiration from Japan, North Africa, and Italy more than from his French Alpine homeland. Witness the sautéed John Dory perfumed with parsley and ginger juices or the tandoori-spiced frog's legs with parsley-root jus. The desserts are surprising, too: roast mango and ravioli stuffed with passion fruit cream and accompanied by coconut sorbet. Local businessmen and the art arbiters of the Ministry of Culture (also housed in the Palais Royal) fill the Grand Véfour by day, in part because it offers an excellent prix-fixe lunch menu—for around $110. At dinner, expect to see a global mix of romantic couples and theatergoers with platinum cards. Book far ahead.
Open Mondays through Thursdays 12:30 to 2 pm and 8 to 10 pm, Fridays 12:30 to 2 pm.